Bedford Now - 4/5/2018
A. From left, Paul Pirrone, Bedford Township Supervisor, and James Nyhan, show the blue light bulbs that are available on request at Bedford Government Center for township residents who wish to participate in Autism Awareness Month campaign.
B. Campaign logo. (Courtesy image)
BEDFORD TOWNSHIP — If you see a lot of blue lights, blue-colored items or puzzle piece images during April at various locations in Bedford Township, you’re noticing the impact of a campaign in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
This is the second year of a community-wide effort encouraging residents to participate in the “Light It Up Blue” project and learn more about the condition of autism.
The 2017 effort saw overwhelming support from the community, according to township officials and supporters.
During the campaign, fundraisers are taking place for special equipment that can be used by students who receive services from Monroe County Intermediate School District’s Education Center. Last year’s purchase was adaptive bicycles that those with physical handicaps can ride, along with a touch screen computer. This year’s proceeds will help purchase physical education equipment and therapeutic equipment at the ISD.
“All the money stays local to help our local autism society,” said James Nyhan, who is among those leading the efforts. His son has autism; as a result, he has been advocating for opportunities and services to help those with the condition along with their families and caregivers.
Autism, he explained, has symptoms and characteristics that vary widely from one person to the next. But early diagnosis and therapy for this sensory and mental condition helps families and friends understand how to help the person learn and adapt to the world around them.
Here’s what to look for:
Light it Up Blue. Local residents are encouraged to change out a porch light or other exterior light with a blue light bulb for the month. More than 500 blue light bulbs were distributed last year as part of the effort. The light bulbs are in stock for purchase at Lambertville Hardware, a limited supply also is available at township hall, 8100 Jackman Road. Another suggestion is to decorate the outside of a home with blue Christmas light strings. Nyhan said he’s hoping that so many residents participate that people start asking “What are the blue lights for?”
Family events at Indian Creek Zoo. Puzzles, a giraffe that is among the animals at Indian Creek Zoo, has become an informal mascot for Bedford’s campaign because the national symbol for autism awareness is a puzzle piece. Photo sessions with Puzzles helped raise money for the project last year, and dates will be announced soon for this year’s Zoo events.
Strike Out Autism event Forest View Lanes. The 2017 bowling event had over 120 participants and many sponsors, raising $7,000 for the bicycle purchase. “It was just fantastic,” Nyhan said about the response. This year’s fundraiser takes place at 1 p.m.April 28, the cost is $20 per person. For information and to sign up, call Jim Nyhan at 419-349-3472.
Autism facts provided by the Light It Up Blue Bedford committee:
Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.
About 40 percent of children with autism do not speak. Some children with autism are using some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Others might speak, but not until later in childhood.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded.
n Children with autism do progress – early intervention is key.